New blogs and pastures greener

A short post, but a necessary one.

Presumably anybody who follows my work and output will a) have questionable judgement when it comes to how to spend their time, and b) already be aware that after 6 years on the Guardian website, the Brain Flapping blog is no more.

Not a decision I claim to agree with, but the whole science blog network is ending at the end of August 2018. It’ll still be there on the site, but it won’t be updated any more.

Not to worry though, as myself and several other members of the network have been snapped up by the new Cosmic Shambles network, launching September 4th, 2018. I’ll be doing my new Brain Yapping blog there, because why tamper with a known formula? It’s pretty much the same stuff as before, but now with more freedom and flexibility in terms of style and content, so it will probably be even weirder and dafter overall. So that’s nice.

Anyway, that’s a thing that’s happening now. More announcements coming soon.

An open letter to my environmentally-friendly hotel

Dear [hotel franchise]

Hello. I recently stayed in your establishment for a business trip. While my stay was perfectly enjoyable, I have several questions about how [hotel franchise] is run, particularly regarding your environmentally-friendly policies and practices.

I know that you at [hotel franchise] care deeply about the environment and protecting our planet’s diminishing resources. I know this because you stated it, repeatedly, via notices in my hotel room. You volunteered the information, in writing, so that makes it official. No judge would argue otherwise, I’m sure.

The thing is though, your passionate concern for the environment was, bizarrely, only ever mentioned in the context of towel use. I was told, quite firmly, that if I wished to re-use a towel I should hang it back up, while if I wanted a clean replacement towel I should leave it on the bathroom floor. By re-using towels rather than unnecessarily washing them, apparently I was helping save the planet. I had no idea it was that easy if I’m honest. Makes me think that Captain Planet was something of a diva, given the extreme lengths he used to to go to.

You’re not the first to point this out, I freely admit that. Practically every other hotel makes the same point, and has done for a while. It’s just, your approach was more “overzealous” than most, given that planet-damaging consequences of excessive towel washing was mentioned on both sides of the bathroom door, next to the spare towels in the cupboard, next to the shower, and in the standard information directory on the night stand. For all I know, dedicated staff also snuck into my room at night and whispered it into my ear while I was asleep.

I sincerely hope that last thing isn’t the case, by the way. As well as the massive invasion of privacy, the evidence that sleep-learning (a.k.a. Hypnopedia) actually works is insufficient, at best. And getting a decent night’s sleep in a hotel room is difficult enough, thanks to how the brain works. And that’s without there being a huge gang of drunken twentysomethings standing on the balcony opposite my room playing the ‘Let’s yell something incoherently but loudly every 23 seconds for no fu**ing reason whatsoever’ game. I can’t see how that last thing is your fault though, so please ignore that for now

Basically, I’m not saying that avoiding washing towels isn’t good for the environment, because evidence shows that it is. It’s just that your eco-enthused brow-beating seemed a bit excessive. I felt like wanting a towel laundered after anything less than mopping up after a ritualistic human sacrifice was tantamount to covering it in asbestos and throwing it on a tyre fire or driving to the nearest aquarium and force-feeding it to a dolphin.

This aside, your concern for the environmental consequences of your industry is admirable. But presumably they apply to all aspects of your business, not just towels? Assuming you really are concerned with the environment across the board and aren’t just using it as a cynical and hypocritical way to reduce laundry bills, could you please answer the following queries.

  • How much water am I, the guest, supposed to use? You go to great lengths to emphasise how excessive use of water and cleaning products is environmentally damaging, but it’s not just towels that need cleaning. My room came with a variety of soaps and cleaning products for my own personal use and full access to bath and shower facilities, yet it was unclear how much of these things I could use before causing severe climate damage. I, a standard sized adult human male, am somewhat bigger than a towel, and despite a greater-than-average coverage of body hair, I am structured very differently, so I couldn’t figure it out from the available information.

To be on the safe side I ended up having a stand-up wash with a coffee cup of cold water and the flannel provided (which I of course reused, despite my reluctance). Unfortunately it’s been very hot lately and the others at the work meetings I attended did not appreciate my minimalist efforts at hygiene. If you could provide some guidance in future as to acceptable self-washing practices, that would be helpful

  • Where do you get your meat? Breakfast was included as part of my stay and it was the standard buffet setup. Trays of sausages and bacon were both clearly visible, and it was reasonably busy while I was there, so both were replenished at least once. Assuming the rate of consumption remains the same over the three-and-a-half-hour period that breakfast is served, by my estimates you’re getting through at least a decent sized pig every day there. And that’s not even factoring all the dairy products like the butter, yoghurt and milk available, and being visibly consumed in great quantities.

I ask this because meat and dairy farming has a hugely negative impact on the environment. People with your eco-friendly enthusiasm will know this already and will have taken steps to avoid using such products. However, given how authentic everything at the breakfast buffet looked, smelled and tasted, you’ve clearly made incredible breakthroughs in perfecting synthetic vegan substitutes for these common foodstuffs, something countless people are working on. Would you be willing to share your procedures or suppliers with the wider world? There’s a huge market for this, and the environmental benefits would be way beyond that gleaned from reduced towel washing.

  • Related; where do you get your solar panels? You insist that excess towel washing uses too much energy and thus harms the planet, but during my stay the use of lighting in your hotel seemed rather extravagant. The reception area was very bright, there were over a dozen separate bulbs in my single-occupant room, the bar area had all manner of flashing decorations blazing for the enjoyment of the seven customers, and there was the huge illuminated sign at the front of the building.

Given your attitudes to energy wastage, I’m assuming all these lights were run from solar panels? But given the amount of energy being used and the general OK-but-could-be-better energy efficiency of most modern solar panels, you must be using a vastly superior model to those accessible to most people. This is particularly true because it was night time when I arrived, suggesting your solar panels work in the dark, which is all kinds of impressive/worrying. So, if you could share the specs with the wider world, the environmental benefits could be astronomical.

Of course, I could be wrong about your use of solar panels. It could be that you have a miniature nuclear reactor in the basement/on the roof to power the building. I feel like this is the sort of thing you should tell guests about though. You’re conscientious enough to tell people there may be nuts in the items on the room service menu, so surely you wouldn’t forget to tell people they’re sleeping within metres of a contained atomic explosion? Just a thought.

I hope you will respond with all the information requested above. Your gung-ho eco-enthusiasm, combined with your revolutionary approaches to the service industry, could be instrumental in saving the planet, if you were just willing to be a little more open.
Unless you’re just using environmental concerns as a front to cut down on laundry bills. But I’d never accuse you of that sort of hypocrisy. That would be awful.

Dean Burnett has stayed in many hotels because he’s been touring to promote his new book, The Happy Brain. Help reduce his carbon footprint and by it now. Available in the UK, US and Canada.

Writing, but with sound and vision

To attempt to go more ‘multimedia’, which is a word that I’ve definitely heard and understood, I’ve endeavoured to make some promotional videos for The Happy Brain.

They contain the usual mix of neuroscience, humour and bumbling amateurism that seems to be my signature brand these days.

They can be found here, more will be added as they’re released

 

The difficult second book

[What follows is an atypically personal rant by Dean Burnett, on the experiences of writing a second book, in case it’s of any use to other aspiring authors or similar writers who may find themselves in similar situations]

I just finished my second book. I mean *really* finished it. Aside from fixing the typos and proofing and formatting, it’s all done and dusted. My part in the process is ‘over’, until it’s released in 7 months and I need to start plugging it, and presumably the whole cycle, of press, interviews, talks at literary festivals, starts up again. Although, in truth, it never actually stopped, just got less intense after the first few months after publication of the debut book.

I had been tentatively warned by others who’d gone through the process that writing your second book is not the same as writing your first. I didn’t doubt this, but also didn’t really appreciate the extent of that observation. I’m sure it’s different for everyone as we all have different circumstances to deal with, but for me, the second time around was so incredibly different to the first time writing a book, and this really took me by surprise.

Part of that is due to the fact that, as a book, it’s a different beast altogether from the first one; there’s a narrative, interviews, personal reflections and other pompous-sounding stuff. My publishers, as keen as they were for a follow up for book one, weren’t willing to let me rest n my laurels and knock out the same old stuff as before, and me, being cheerfully optimistic and still relatively oblivious about how this whole ‘author’ thing works, was quite happy to agree with what they suggested. Should have put more thought into that really, as in the end I was essentially figuring out how to write a book all over again, as I was writing one. This was a bit tricky.

My situation was also different. I also didn’t have my study room in the house any more. What I DID have, was a second child, who slept in there now. Well, I say ‘slept’, that was the theory at least. My very young daughter often sees sleep as more of an ‘optimistic suggestion’ than a biological necessity. So that was something else to factor in.

I also had a ‘previous’ book. I wasn’t ‘unknown author’ any more, I was now ‘author of…’, which was a bigger psychological hurdle than I realised. The success of my first book was actually a surprisingly big problem in many ways. Firstly, as alluded to before, it hasn’t actually gone away at any point, so as I’m trying to write the second one I’m still constantly travelling around to talk about the first one. This does disrupt your ‘flow’ somewhat.

But, at a more fundamental level, the problem was I actually splurged all my existing knowledge and said all the things I wanted to talk about when the first book, because I genuinely didn’t think there’d be any call for a second one. I’m still fairly new to publishing but I know that, like with all creative industries, the road to success is littered with the debris of those who crashed and burned, and I figured I’d a much higher chance of being one of those. Sure, I had a popular blog and a relatively unique approach in a rather crowded field, but I mostly saw those as things to fall back on. Overall, I assumed my first book it would do ‘middling’ business at best, maybe end up in a few relevant libraries, and that would be that. Thanks for trying, no harm no foul, see you around.

That… didn’t happen, as we know. The first book did well, to a daft extent. So I ended up writing a second book, that I’d never planned, to match a first book, that I had no idea would do as well as it did.

For the record, this absolutely isn’t a complaint; I’m aware of how massively fortunate I am to even be in this position, let alone make it work, and that many would kill to be in my shoes. I appreciate that, I really do, and will do my best to warrant the privileged position I find myself in. Those who have invested in me deserve no less, whether it by getting my writing out into the world or spending their own time and money in reading it.

But, it’s also important to point out, I think, that this isn’t an always-easy gig, however cushy it may seem from the outside. I’ve had countless people approach me since, asking if I can help get their book published like mine. I’m always happy to help out others as and when I can, but I’m not some omnipotent book-based God. Me putting a word in for you might help slightly, but it won’t mean you get published.

I stress this because I’ve had people seemingly think that an endorsement from me is all they need. People saying things like “I reckon I’d be good at writing a book, can I speak to your publishers” or “I’ve got a good idea for a book. I can’t really describe it but it’s great, can you pass it on to your publishers?” Where do they think this will end up? Me telling my publishers that a total stranger (to them, and sometimes to me) reckons they’d be good at doing books, so give them an advance? Seems a tad optimistic, I reckon.

Point is, yes it’s great being a published author, but getting the second book done nearly broke my mind several times, as my wife will no doubt attest to. I’ve actually just started reading my second book now, as it’s all one piece, and it’s like something written by someone else. It was just such a slog and a stress getting it done that I honestly don’t recognise parts of it. I can never hope to objective, but I’m actually impressed that it even hangs together in a logical way.

Basically, what I’m saying is, I can’t rule out the possibility that my second book is utter shite. But, there’s a reason for that if it is. So, apologies in advance to all those inconvenienced by the ever-increasing promotion I’m going to be doing over the coming months. Block/unfollow/ignore me as you wish, I’ll understand totally.

The Happy Brain – 03/05/2018

“Might be shit” (Dean Burnett, author)

The Dead Brexit Sketch

 

The Electorate enters 10 Downing Street holding Brexit in a box. Enters Prime Minister Theresa May’s office. May is sat behind a desk.

Electorate: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(Theresa May does not respond.)

Electorate: ‘Ello, Jeremy?

May: What do you mean “Jeremy”?

Electorate: (pause) I’m sorry, I got mixed up. I wish to make a complaint!

May: We’re, um, on holiday for three months.

Electorate: Never mind that, my lady. I wish to complain about this Brexit what I voted for barely over a year ago in a referendum approved of in this very office.

May: Oh yes, the, uh, the Britain’s exit from the European Union for a future of unconstrained prosperity and global success…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

Electorate: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lady. It’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

May: No, no, it’s uh,…it’s resting.

Electorate: Look, matey, I know a dead Brexit when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

May: No no it’s not dead, it’s, it’s restin’! Remarkable process, the Red White and Blue Brexit, idn’it, ay? Beautiful jams!

Electorate: Jams don’t enter into it! It’s stone dead.

May: Nononono, no, no! It’s resting!

Electorate: All right then, if it’s restin’, I’ll wake it up! (shouting at Brexit) ‘Ello, Mister Brexit! We’ve got some lovely fresh negotiations for you if you show…

(UK withdraws from the 1964 London Fisheries convention)

May: There, it moved! We took back control!

Electorate: No, you didn’t, that was you withdrawing from an obscure self-imposed initiative which was obsolete anyway!

May: I never!!

Electorate: Yes, you did!

May: I never, never did anything…

Electorate: (yelling and hitting Brexit repeatedly) ‘ELLO BREXIT!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your Article 50 alarm call! We’ve got barely a year left to sort out four decades worth of infrastructure and integration! Testing!

(Takes Brexit, thumps it against May’s desk. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

Electorate: Now that’s what I call a dead Brexit.

May: No, no…..no, it’s sabotaged!

Electorate: SABOTAGED?!?

May: Yeah! You sabotaged it, just as it was getting going! Brexits sabotage easily, major.

Electorate: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That Brexit is definitely deceased, and when I voted for it not 15 months ago, you assured me that its total lack of logic and common sense was due to experts and the liberal elite not being trustworthy and it would be fine because the Germans will want to sell us cars. And now look at it!

May: Well, it’s…it’s, ah…probably pining for the Empire.

Electorate: PININ’ for the EMPIRE?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did it fall flat on it’s face the moment negotiations started?

May: Brexit prefers falling on its face! Remarkable process, id’nit, squire? Lovely jams!

Electorate: Look, I took the liberty of examining this Brexit when it all kicked off, and I discovered the only reason that it had seemed feasible in the first place was because of ridiculous lies on a bus and you not telling us anything about it, justified with some guff about keeping your cards “close to your chest”!

(pause)

May: Well, o’course I had to keep my cards close to my chest! For everyone else’s benefit. If I hadn’t, everyone would know how amazing Britain is, Brexit would have spread through the EU, broke it all up with its strength and stability, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Electorate: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this Brexit wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘It’s bleedin’ demised!

May: No no! It’s pining!

Electorate: ‘It’s not pinin’! It’s passed on! The sunlit uplands are no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet it’s maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t kept us in the dark it’d have been binned a long time ago! This exiting processes is now a shambles! It’s a coalition of chaos! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its half-baked rationale, squandered our credibility and joined the bleedin’ Suez canal crisis!! THIS IS AN EX-BREXIT!!

(pause)

May: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (May takes a quick peek behind desk) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round and uh, we’re right out of equivalent international treaties that allow us to maintain our present standard of living while granting us greater-if-unnecessary sovereignty and control of our borders right now.

Electorate: I see. I see, I get the picture.

May: (pause) We’ve got the World Trade Organisation.

(pause)

Electorate: Pray, does it allow us to trade and work seamlessly with our nearest neighbours, something on which most of our economy and industry depends?

May: Nnnnot really.

Electorate: WELL IT’S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT, IS IT?!!???!!?

May: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)

Electorate: Well.

(pause)

May: (quietly) D’you…. d’you fancy another election?

Electorate: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.

 

Inspired in part by the inestimable David Allen Green and his insightful explaining of Brexit via pop-culture references

How to identify a ‘Lone Wolf’ : A scientific guide

The Finsbury park attack this week was just the latest in a seemingly endless run of such incidents. Difficult times. Difficult problems. Dispiriting options. Hard times ahead.

I don’t know how to address these things, I’m just a random bloke with a webpage. However, one thing I can help with, is describing the perpetrators. Many people have been angered by the lack of media coverage referring to him as a terrorist, arguing that because the attack was directed at Muslims rather than perpetrated by them, then it can’t be terrorism, because only Muslims do that, if you believe the papers.

There may indeed be an element of this, but as many have pointed out, the individual responsible is alive and will face trial, so legal restrictions are in place regarding what can and cannot be reported, in order to prevent mistrial and so forth.

Ergo, some of the media coverage has had to get a bit more creative. The Times went all out with their front page splash referring to the individual as a “lone wolf”.

This is a commonly used phrase. But is it accurate? And if so, how are you supposed to know when you’ve got one nearby? Many neighbours and relations of those labelled Lone Wolves often express shock and dismay that a harmless-seeming individual could do something so heinous. Except in this case, admittedly, as the Cardiff neighbours of the accused individual refer to him as a “complete c***“.

So, how do you know if someone is a Lone Wolf? Here’s a scientific guide.

FOOD

How does the individual in question find food when hungry? If they’re a true lone wolf, they will seek out prey with their highly efficient hearing and sense of smell. Of course, being a lone wolf they will be denied the advantage of group hunting meaning they can’t bring down larger animals, so will be restricted to smaller prey.

If they instead obtain food from the extensive range of options provided by standard human society, then they are not really a lone wolf. Even the subtlest interaction required by most transactions would largely rule out lone wolf status if carried out successfully. If the individual readily consumes cuisine like kebabs, pizzas, curries, burgers etc. while constantly complaining about how the influence of immigrants and foreigners is ‘ruining this country’, then they’re definitely not a lone wolf, they’re just an idiot

LIVING ARRANGEMENTS

A true lone wolf will avoid the territories of other packs, except in certain circumstances (see below), so they are constantly on the move, keeping their presence secret from other wolves by any means necessary. Without a pack to be part of, other wolves are a danger to steer clear of. It means lone wolves have to cover hundreds of miles of terrain to find food and safety.

If the individual in question lives as a member of a community or family group with no obvious issues or conflict beyond the everyday, if they aren’t driven from their homes to pursue a solitary existence on the margins of human settlements, then they aren’t a lone wolf. The fact that reported Lone Wolves often have neighbours and friends to speak up for them is itself a contradiction.

SEX

Obviously, a genuine lone wolf doesn’t get to mate much, what with being literally alone. However, there are instances when, if the circumstances align neatly, they can do so. If they detect the scent of a female in heat (lone wolves are mostly male, but not always) who is part of a pack where the alpha is weak or old, they can challenge said alpha for mating rites, and sometimes win. Thanks to this process, a Finnish Lone Wolf once saved a Swedish pack from inbreeding-induced disaster.

By contrast, if their lack of sex is due to something like an unrealistic expectation of how much women will want to be with them leading to illogical feelings of rejection slowly developing into a seething but unwarranted rage and aggression at women and the world in general, that’s a whole other thing. Not a Lone Wolf. There are genuine issues and social factors to be looked at and combated there, but the comparison with wolves is even more unwarranted.

If they’re actually married with children and still hate the world and everyone in it, again, there are other issues at work here.

SPECIES

If they have four legs, sharp teeth and fur, then they’re probably a lone wolf. If they’re bipedal and wear clothes and talk and understand the concept of money and religion and politics and beany babies and smartphones and bathtubs etc., then they’re clearly a human.

I realise it’s meant to be metaphorical, but I don’t care. Words and images matter, particularly when presented in maximum-impact high-profile ways, like on the fronts of major newspapers. Wolves are highly evolved pack predators but the fact that around 15% of them end up going it alone is intriguing to us. A lone wolf inspires images of independence, dignity, mystery, strength and determination, as well it should.

None of these qualities should be reflexively applied to a despicable individual who commits acts of obscene violence against innocent people due to illogical and highly suspect conclusions, just because he doesn’t conform to the usual ethnic or religious templates you prefer.

If you must use some comparable creature from the natural world, why not try the Carpenter ant? They are perfectly normal individuals except when they get infected by a vicious brain fungus which causes them to abandon their community and go off on illogical suicide missions, purely so the brain-eating fungus can spread to others. Surely that’s a far more suitable comparison? Unless you’re harvesting the fungus for your own benefit of course, then I guess you wouldn’t want to draw attention to it

[Facts about Lone Wolves can be found here]

Dean’s book The Idiot Brain is available now for 40% off

 

 

On working for ‘exposure’ (and why I won’t)

There are many places where exposure is not welcomed, you know.

Hello. Dean here. Makes sense, it’s my site after all. Be weird if it wasn’t me, if anything.

Since I’ve set up this site, I’ve had numerous messages from people from all walks of life. Students, journalists, podcasters, fans and definitely-not-fans of my writing and book, event organisers, and, recently, a particularly angry clown. Literally, a clown. I’m enjoying it, if I’m honest.

Many of these messages have been requests for me to be involved with or take part in their radio show/publication/podcast/event etc. I’ve no issue with such requests, although am extremely short on time for such things at present. However, a few things have popped up, both here and with discussion (online and in the physical world) with colleagues in similar lines of work, about the constant problem of people asking you to work for free, or ‘for exposure‘, as it’s normally phrased. It varies between industries, admittedly; in stand-up comedy it’s ‘stage time’, in academia it’s ‘good for your CV’.

The argument of people asking you to work for exposure, in my understanding, works like this; “You are a someone who has a creative/performance-based skill that you want to make a living from, and for that you need people to be aware of your work, so that they may employ you to do it for them. If you contribute your work to my event/publication/thing, more people will be aware of it, thus increasing your chances of making money from your work eventually. This is a valid form of reward so should be appropriate compensation for the work you’re doing for me, rather than me reimbursing you financially”.

If we’re being very generous, that’s possibly how many people who offer to pay you with exposure see the situation. However, for those of us on the other side, it seems more like “Hello, you have a skill I clearly need to utilise but even though I could pay for it, I’d prefer not to if I could avoid it, so I’m going to argue that I’m providing you with increased odds of being paid more by other people at later dates, a claim that is largely impossible to disprove, but I’m not the one who has to debate it with your landlord at the end of the month so I don’t really give a damn”.

There’s obviously a range of possibilities between these two extremes, but the latter example seems to be depressingly common. Many times I and my public-engagement comrades have had ‘invitations to contribute’ or ‘requests to speak’ from people who are clearly making money (charging tickets, posting ads etc.) from the thing we’re being asked to donate our efforts to, but they’re still unwilling to consider paying the people who actually create the essential material that other people are paying to experience. Worse, they often imply they are doing you a favour! “Tell you what, I’ll let you build my new garage, it’ll help you get in shape”

But it’s really persistent and ingrained, and often times the people offering ‘exposure’ have no means or intention of even delivering that. Case in point, and this is something I tweeted a few weeks back, but felt it should be in a more permanent form so am repeating it here.

Several years back, I got contacted by a former associate who works in the media. We’d worked together on a few things in the past, nothing major, we were never close per se, but never had a cross word or anything. I hadn’t seen him for years, but then I started writing for the Guardian, and got several “Hey, remember me?” messages, as you can imagine. One was from this guy.

Turns out he was currently working on a new project, a website of some sort, can’t remember details but he was keen to make it a success, as you’d expect. So, what he wanted was for me to write an article for it, because someone with ‘my profile’ involved would help it get off the ground. I wasn’t as busy or ‘in demand’ then, so I said fine, why not. His reply was “Thanks. There’s no money sorry, but it’ll be great exposure for you”.

This left me baffled for several minutes. He wanted me to write something for him, for free, so his site would gain exposure via me, and he was offering to pay ME with exposure? Just the sheer front of it left me agape. “You know those carrots you grow yourself? Can I have 50? I’ll pay you 20 carrots once I’ve got them”.

My theory is, he’d been in ‘the media’ for years. The “for exposure” tactic was clearly so ingrained he deployed it even when it made no logical sense. This more than anything convinced me that offers to pay in ‘exposure’ are far more likely to be self-serving than anything of mutual benefit.

I’m lucky, I realise that. I’m at a point now where I get plenty of invites so can be choosy, I have my own platforms and profile so ‘exposure’ from others is of little use even if the offer were genuine. I am also short on time, so need to be thoughtful about what I agree to. I also have an agent, who is more than willing to take on anyone who tries to bamboozle me into free labour with claims of their clout and influence, and regularly does so.

For the record, I’m not at all averse to helping people out for free if they need it. Charities, struggling start-ups, enthusiastic projects done for the love and not for the profit margin, small independent businesses, time and practicality allowing I’ll contribute my efforts to all of these things, and happily so. I’ve worked hard to get to this point, but have also been very lucky too, least I can do is try and share that around.

But, if you make money from something and are trying to weasel out of paying the very people you require to do so, you won’t be getting anything from me. And that includes any incredibly-well-known organisations dedicated to showing slick, cool and inspiring presentations that can be and often are easily shared online, that make ridiculous sums of money but refuse to pay any speakers and won’t even allow them to promote or sell their own work to make up for it. You can ‘invite me to participate’ all you want guys (always via unofficial, personal channels and never my publishers or agent, weirdly enough), I’m not doing it! So you ‘do one’ instead.

 

Second Book and TV rights

March has brought a double-whammy of Dean-based announcements.

Firstly, it has been officially announced that Dean is working on a follow-up to the internationally successful The Idiot Brain, titled The Happy Brain, all about why the things that make us happy do so, what’s going on in the brain to make us enjoy some things and not others, and so on. Scheduled to be released in May 2018 by Guardian-Faber, the same publishers behind The Idiot Brain

Secondly, the same announcement also confirmed that the TV adaptation rights for The Idiot Brain have been sold to One Ho Productions, the company owned and overseen by Whoopi Goldberg, who is apparently a very big fan of Idiot Brain (US version). So Dean’s efforts may eventually be gracing a screen near you. Who’d have thought? Not him, that’s for sure.

Dean in 2017

Happy new year to all of Dean Burnett’s readers, fans, well-wishers, vaguely interested types or harmless online stalkers.

2016, despite all the awful stuff going on in the political arena, was a big year for Dean with the publication of his debut book The Idiot Brain, which has since been translated and released in multiple countries worldwide to much acclaim, resulting in Dean appearing in numerous media across the globe.

Rather than calming down and allowing him to fade back into obscurity as is only right and fair, 2017 promises to be hectic for Dean in its own right, with several literature festivals already booked, the release of the smaller paperback of The Idiot Brain (in the UK), many more international releases lined up, and also Dean hosting a panel at the prestigious Royal Institute in London in March.

This isn’t even counting at least 2 major Dean-based announcements that are currently under wraps, but stay tuned about those.

Best wishes to all. Onward, and upward

‘Idiot Brain’ nominated for GoodReads Choice 2016 award

Dean Burnett’s debut book ‘Idiot Brain’ is nominated for a GoodReads 2016 Science and Technology award.

It’s up against some seriously big names and bestselling books, so it’s almost certainly not going to win, but if you were inclined to vote for it to avoid Dean experiencing a total washout, that would be very much appreciated

UPDATE: Idiot Brain came in 7th overall. Considering what it was up against, that’s not too shabby at all. Much appreciation to everyone who voted.